21 April 2015

Editorial: Japan's Increasingly Uncertain Security Environment

By Mina Pollmann

Japan’s defense reforms are motivated by perceived security threats in the region.

The National Institute for Defense Studies, the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s think tank, produced its annual report, the East Asian Strategic Review, for 2015 on April 10. A key theme throughout the analysis (which covers the 2014 calendar year) was the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s national defense reform and increasing range of exercises.

For example, China and Russia have increased the number of joint military drills in a way that is sparking concern in Tokyo. One such joint exercise involved aircraft identification and air defense, with consideration given to how a crisis situation involving the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea might play out.

Japanese concerns about Chinese behavior in the East China Sea is not just based on conjectures about China’s opaque intentions – there are tangible and direct Chinese actions that Japan finds alarming. On April 15, the Ministry of Defense reported that Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) fighters were scrambled 943 times, close to a record, in fiscal year 2014 (April 2014 to March 2015). That’s 133 more times than FY2013, and only second to FY1984 during the Cold War, when ASDF fighters scrambled 944 times.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is No Aircraft Carrier

By Robert Farley

Framing the Trans-Pacific Partnership as an urgent issue for U.S. national security is frankly unproductive.

As reported by Prashanth Parameswaran, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has joined the chorus in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Carter has made explicit the national security “turn” in the TPP debate by analogizing the agreement to the construction of a new aircraft carrier.

The reformulation of the TPP conversation as a national security issue is puzzling, but isn’t necessarily new. David Petraeus made the same case for the TPP last year, arguing that American credibility depended on offering our friends and allies the security and predictability of a multi-lateral trade agreement. Patrick Cronin makes a similar case, although his argument (like that of Petraeus) is a conceptual mess, conjuring terrors of Australia and Japan realigning around Beijing, and implying that changing the way that Vietnam handles American intellectual property regulation will somehow have an effect on Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. Michelle Flournoy and Ely Ratner made roughly the same argument in the Wall Street Journal.

Who are these people trying to convince? The national security “turn” in the TPP conversation is unlikely to carry much weight abroad, and so must be aimed at a domestic audience.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: Who Will Supply the US Navy's Next Anti-Ship Missile?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Boeing just announced a new upgrade to its Harpoon missile.

Last week, Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) announced that it will offer the United States Navy an updated version of the Harpoon RGM-84 Block II anti-ship missile (ASM), called Harpoon Next Generation, for the navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the modified LCS Frigate program, USNI News reports.

Boeing will offer both a new missile as well as a kit to upgrade the existing Harpoon inventories of the U.S. Navy and 27 international clients. The principal improvements of the next generation Harpoon ASM, in comparison to the current model in use, will be increased range, a more fuel-efficient engine, and a smaller 300-pound class warhead.

According to Jim Brooks, director of cruise missile systems weapons programs for Boeing Global Strike Weapons and Missile Systems, a division of BDS, the upgrade aims at “doubling the range of Harpoon from 67 nm [124km] to 134 nm [248km].” The next generation Harpoon and the kit are supposed to be ready by 2018.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

Editorial: 3 Ways a Hillary Clinton Presidency Would Affect US-China Relations

By Dingding Chen

A Hillary Clinton presidency would certainly present some challenges, but nothing U.S.-China relations can’t withstand.

Now that Hillary Clinton has announced her decision to run for the presidency of the United States in 2016, the interesting question for Sino-U.S. relations is would her success mean a tougher U.S. approach to China?

Many Chinese pundits and netizens seem to be worried about such a possibility. TheGlobal Times did an online survey asking Chinese netizens’ about their views of Hillary Clinton and 95 percent of the respondents had negative views of her. Because the Global Times and its readers tend toward the more nationalistic and patriotic end of the spectrum, we should not take this result at face value. Nonetheless, many others (here and here) in China share these negative views toward Clinton.

Why is this so? Is this a fair perception of Clinton? Regardless of the accuracy of such views, three main reasons have been cited to support the negative view of Hillary Clinton.

Read the full story at The Diplomat

20 April 2015

Think Tank: Australian shipbuilding; for the Abbott government it’s just politics…

David Feeney

More evidence of Abbott’s policy stance on the next generation of Australian submarines was revealed with the release of the RAND report into Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise.

By ignoring an Australian build for future submarines, the Government has excluded the benefits of economies of scale when conducting side by side ship builds.

The Abbott Government came to power in 2013, promising to ‘bridge’ the ‘valley of death’ that Australia’s shipbuilding industry will confront—from the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) construction to the commencement of the Future Frigate (SEA 5000) and Future Submarine (SEA 1000) projects.

The Abbott Government promised to keep Australian shipyards busy building the warships that everybody agrees Australia needs. But on 22 May 2014 former Defence Minister, Senator Johnston, told ABC Radio:

Think Tank: Advancing Australia’s regional interests- don’t ditch the POE

Karl Claxton

If there was an award for most audacious title for a blog, Peter Layton’s ‘Shortcomings of the next defence white paper’ would surely take the prize. It was posted just months after the 2013 edition hit the streets and immediately following the then-new minister’s ASPI address. To be fair, the focus of his criticism was on what he regards as an overly narrow white paper process rather than the future volume’s possible content.

As we approach the launch of an actual DWP, probably in the third quarter of this year, it doesn’t seem quite so bold to offer unsolicited advice on the direction of a work-in-progress. Doing so still has its perils, as we can only speculate what the document will say. But it’ll be too late to influence the strategy (or final adjustments to the May Budget) once it’s published, and there are some pretty strong clues as to its likely shape. Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week announced we’ll purchase two more giant C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, and announced the dispatch of an important ADF–NZDF mission to train Iraqi troops against ISIL on the eve of a long run of Centenary-of-ANZAC commemorative activities. This week, ADF troops will join US and Philippines forces in, as Fairfax puts it, ‘South China Sea war games’ for only the second time, and as China builds artificial islands and military facilities on disputed reefs.

AUS: Captain (Prince Harry) Wales gets airborne in the Top End

Australian Army Tiger ARH (File Photo)

Captain Harry Wales has spent his first two weeks the Australian Army with the North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) and the 1st Brigade.

His program included time in an Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tiger.

Captain Wales undertook flight simulation training, before heading out with members of the 1st Aviation Regiment on an ARH Tiger reconnaissance flight from Robertson Barracks, Darwin.

During his time with the 1st Brigade, Captain Wales has been busy participating in the day-to-day activities of soldiering, including physical training sessions and preparing for field exercises as part of Exercise Thunder Observer, a Joint Fire Team Training exercise, soon to be conducted by the 1st Brigade’s 8th/12th Medium Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. Designed to maintain combat readiness, the exercise will include a live fire collaboration between ground and air assets.  

News Story: US bases in Asia-Pacific to counter China - China Youth Daily

The United States is strategically shifting its military bases to the Asia-Pacific region for the primary purpose of countering China's rise, claims the China Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League.

Citing US digital news outlet Quartz, the report claims that America has at least 686 "base sites" off the US mainland in 74 foreign countries.

The management of US base sites is split between Washington headquarters, the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, while the types of military bases generally can be placed into three categories.

The first of these is the Main Operating Base, which is defined as a "permanently manned, well protected base, used to support permanently deployed forces, and with robust sea and/or air access." Examples of this type of base can be found in Japan, South Korea and Germany.

The second category of US military base is the Forward Operating Base, which is mainly used to support tactical operations. It is typically used to store weapons, carry out troop rotations and conduct emergency missions, and has a smaller permanent force or contractor personnel. Such bases were set up by the US during the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, mostly in neighboring countries.

The third type of US military base is the Cooperative Security Location, which provides facilities for regional training and contingency access to continental areas. These bases utilize few US officers and offer higher cost efficiency, which is why Washington intends to increase this type of base significant(ly) in the future.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: China, Russia to upgrade joint military exercises

China and Russia are to hold large-scale joint naval exercises before Japan has its fleet review in October, with the two countries also agreeing to elevate the scale and standard of joint maneuvers, reports our Chinese language sister paper Want Daily.

Seventy officers of the Chinese Guard of Honor will participate in the May 9 Russia Victory Day Red Square Parade that commemorates the capitulation of Nazi Germany, Hong Kong's Phoenix Television cited an unnamed Russian expert as saying.

There will also be a joint military exercise by the Chinese Navy and Russia's Black Sea Fleet. In addition, there will be 15 other events, including tank force as well as scout and pilot displays that are slated to be held in the coming months, the unnamed source added, from the fourth International Security Conference which opened in Moscow on Apr. 16.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: S-400 Strengthens China's Hand in the Skies

S-400 Triumf TEL (Wiki Info - Image: Wiki Commons)

By Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI — A deal between Russia and China for procurement of the new S-400 air defense system will serve as a force multiplier for Beijing in its quest to dominate the skies along its borders, experts said.

The 400-kilometer-range system will, for the first time, allow China to strike any aerial target on the island of Taiwan, in addition to reaching air targets as far as New Delhi, Calcutta, Hanoi and Seoul. The Yellow Sea and China's new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea will also be protected. The system will permit China, if need be, to strike any air target within North Korea.

The S-400 will also allow China to extend, but not dominate, the air defense space closer to the disputed Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, said Vasiliy Kashin, a China defense specialist at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Moscow. China refers to the islands as the Diaoyu, and tensions between Beijing and Japan have been increasing for several years as China continues to claim the islands.

Read the full story at DefenseNews